Storymoja held its first ever public bookclub at Sherlock’s Den, Nakumatt Lifestyle, Nairobi CBD on 5th June 2008 at 6pm. The discussion was based on Barack Obama’s book Dreams From my Father. The Chief Guest was Dr. PLO Lumumba and the Session was moderated by Storymoja’s Managing Director Muthoni Garland, who is a writer herself.
After a brief reading of an excerpt from the book, a stimulating discussion quickly ensued. From the discussion spawned various ideas on the education system in Kenya, world politics and the stories behind the book.
Dr. Lumumba raised the suggestion that had Barack Obama been born and raised in Kenya, his destiny might have changed. To this a guest said that the Kenyan education system kills the creativity of children. Dr Lumumba reiterated that Kenyans were contented with the low hanging fruits and do not ask questions that can help achieve positive development and change. He compared the Asian and Kenyan education system, saying that in Asia everyone interrogated the kind of education the children go through whereas in Kenya it was not surprising to find a teacher drunk on cheap alcohol – changaa.
A guest declared that he would not trash the education system completely. Instead he suggested that we scrutinize where we have gone wrong and see what can be changed or improved. “True knowledge will define eternity and all knowledge should direct us to the truth.”
Dr. Lumumba gave an example of a Kenyan who was passionate about education - Thomas Joseph Mboya. He said Mr. Mboya contributed to education by helping poor Kenyans get scholarships to study abroad. Barack Obama Senior was one of those who benefited. In memory of this and many other achievements by Kenyan and African People Dr. Lumumba declared: “Let it not be said that when history is written Europeans can boast of civilization while Africa can only boast of fetching water for other civilizations.”
On Politics Dr. Lumumba likened the politics in Kenya to crabs in a basket; they would not get out because the others will pull them back. He asserted that Tanzania had a political culture that helps citizens strive and that we should look to such African examples not as a strict guideline for development and change but as a beacon of direction.
Dr. Lumumba closed the discussion by calling out, “Inculcate reading. Reading for enjoyment, reading for development, reading for us!”